New Zealand - Miranda and other January stuff

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chrish
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New Zealand - Miranda and other January stuff

Post by chrish »

So after the pelagic trip on the first, we did make a few other brief birding jaunts.

The first was to the Miranda Shorebird Center, which is regarded as one of the more important shorebird reserves in the world. My reason to go there was to see a Wrybill, a small sandpiper endemic to New Zealand with a strangely curved short beak (it curves to the right). I have wanted to go there for years, but it just never worked out in the past.

We arrived at Miranda in the late afternoon so Che'ree and I hurried over to the bird observation blind to see what we could before it got dark. The blind is a small building that overlooks a large mudflat/sandy bar area where the birds congregate.

There were large numbers of birds there, but most were a distance away -

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Most of these were Bar-tailed Godwits, Lesser (Red) Knots, South Island Pied Oystercatchers with a few other odds and ends mixed in. Amongst the goodies mixed in were some Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and a few Wrybills, but we would have to wait for the tide to come in to force them closer to the blind tomorrow.

Not all the birds were far away that first afternoon.

Bar-tailed Godwits. In case you don't know, this species has one of the most remarkable migratory flights in the world. They fly from Alaska to New Zealand non-stop over the ocean more than 7000 miles. They are satellite tag data to confirm this. No other bird flies that far non-stop. Whenever I see them, I am always amazed to think they did this. No wonder they look so tired. :lol:

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There were a fair number of Black-billed Gulls. Black-billeds are more of a South Island bird and this is just about as far north as they come after breeding.

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The beautiful Pied Stilt really puts our Black-necked Stilt to shame....

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This White-faced Heron was hunting the shallows and the Black-billed Gull appeared to be watching, waiting for a chance to steal his morsel?

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The next morning at high(er) tide, we went back to the blind. En route we had to walk through some extensive pasture/grassy areas where we saw -

European Goldfinches

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European Greenfinches

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Eurasian Skylark's were skylarking all along the trail as we walked as well. I only got a photo of this young one.

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We also saw a Yellowhammer, but I couldn't get a photo in time.

When we got to the blind, we saw hundreds of little peeps. The elusive Wrybill. Actually, what we saw probably represented a significant proportion of the world population.

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I didn't get a clear shot of the bill, but you can kind of see it here -

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Amongst the Wrybills were several other good birds. For some stupid reason I didn't photograph the Greater Sand Plover that was right in front of the blind or the Curlew Sandpipers, but here are a few others.

Red-breasted (New Zealand) Dotterel -

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Double-banded Plover -

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Out further were a group of feral Black Swans

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But the coolest bird of the day was over behind the blind. For most of the summer a Shore Plover had been present here at Miranda. The remarkable thing about this is that wild Shore Plovers are confined to the southern shore of one small island off the south coast of southern New Zealand. The total world population is considered to be somewhere around 250-300 individuals and the New Zealand DOC is working feverishly to establish new populations to prevent its extinction. This individual showed up here, probably after a translocation to an island off of Wellington (?) and had been here all summer. Unfortunately it is a solitary male so it is effectively out of the gene pool right now. Two days before, it had been right in front of the blind, or course. But it wasn't today so I spent the better part of an hour scanning dozens of flocks of shorebirds in all directions until I finally found it. I walked about 10 minutes across a pasture to get close enough to make a positive ID through a scope then snapped this photo.

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The only other "trip" we made while in NZ this time was a trip across the bay from my parents house to Kawau island. You can see it out their windows and they had offered to go out there with me before since it is a 15 minute ferry ride, but I had chosen other things. On this trip, I read that there were Weka (a large forest dwelling rail) on the island and I had only seen those once before off the South Island. So I became more enthusiastic.

The trip across the bay was uneventful, other than seeing a couple of Little Penguins and Fluttering Shearwaters. On Kawau, I got a few photos of things like

Pied Cormorant

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Kelp Gull eating whipped cream off the table

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Hybrid Pacific Duck x Mallard

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and of course, the Weka -

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Anyway, I think that is the last of my NZ stuff for this trip.

I'll leave you with a photo I took from the pelagic trip. We were less than 100 feet off shore from this island (Little Barrier) and had cruised pretty much all the way around it.
The sign says "Nature Reserve: No Landing".

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Why did I care? Because these things live there and I couldn't go look. I had to settle with this zoo shot. :(

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monklet
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Re: New Zealand - Miranda and other January stuff

Post by monklet »

Great post Chris! What an adventure. Wow, could that be the only Tuatara ever posted on FHF? ...and if so, in the Bird Forum? :beer: :lol:

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AndyO'Connor
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Re: New Zealand - Miranda and other January stuff

Post by AndyO'Connor »

Well I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be the first tuatara ever, if you count captives, if it were wild I think that would take the cake. Sounds like a pretty fun time for a birder's perspective, the numbers game makes it interesting to me, like when there is only hundreds of a species left, or when you have a significant proportion of the world's population in front of you. Thanks for sharing.

Matt Buckingham
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Re: New Zealand - Miranda and other January stuff

Post by Matt Buckingham »

Good stuff Chris. Really enjoyed reading about the trip, and the pics were the icing on the cake!

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MHollanders
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Re: New Zealand - Miranda and other January stuff

Post by MHollanders »

Great again.

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